Cheatham County, Tennessee History


This brief history of the early beginnings of Cheatham County, Tennessee was taken from an old Church Fan that was passed out as a gift by Ragan's Cash Store in Ashland City, Cheatham County, Tennessee in the early 1900's and is considered to be worthy of reprint here.  The majority of the  information presented obviously came from "Goodspeeds History of Cheatham County".

"An Act of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee passed February 28, 1856, created the county of Cheatham, composed of parts of the counties of Davidson, Robertson, Montgomery and Dickson.  The question for forming a new county, as created by the Act, was submitted to the people at an election held on the first day of April, 1856, at which election a majority of the votes cast were in favor of the new county.  After the survey was made and submitted to the Governor, the new county was created.  The first County Court in Cheatham County was held at Sycamore Mills, on Monday May 5, 1856.  W. L. Gower was elected Chairman, and F. A. Harris County Court Clerk, pro tem, and Williaiamson Gatewood, Sheriff pro tem.
It is not known just when or where the first settlement was made in Cheatham County.  One account is that of Adam Binkley who settled with his wife and sons on Sycamore Creek near the village of Sycamore Mills in the year 1780, but this date may be in error.  Other accounts of early settlement is to be found throughout the county in various publications of early histories of the counties listed above.  The first settlements were made along the streams, where many sparkling springs were found.  About the year 1825 George Brown established a paper mill on Spring Creek, about four miles southwest of Pleasant View, and ran it for several years.

At the June term of 1857, the County Court ordered the erection of a Court House.  Accordingly a two-story frame building was erected in the year 1858 on the corner of Main and Cumberland Streets in Ashland City and was used as a Court House until 1869, when the County sold it and the lots belonging thereto to Mrs. E. M. Cooper for $1,926.00.  The building was then used as a hotel, known as the Central Hotel.  The new and more substantial brick Court House was then erected.  Shortly after the organization of the County, a small jail was erected, built of logs, but later a brick jail was built.   The Asylum For The Poor was built in 1874.

The population of the County in 1856 was estimated at 7,100; the 1860 census, 7,258; the 1870 census at 6,678; the 1880 census at 7,958, and the 1886 census at 8,500.  R. W. Ray was the first resident lawyer in the County, and had a fair practice established when the Civil War began.

Ashland City history begins with and is connected with the organization of the County.  It was surveyed and platted in 1856 under the direction of Commissioners appointed by the first County Court for that purpose.

The Public Square, on which the Court House stands is 300x600 feet, and the town lots vary in size.  The Court House is two-thirds of a mile from the River Landing.  Two public sales of the town lots were made; the first on October 6th 1856, and the second on November 1st, 1858.  At these sales 65 lots were sold for the aggregate amount of $10,000.00, and the lots were sold on 12 months time, and the purchase money was paid into the County revenue, as required by law.  The first lot sold was No. 9, purchased by Joseph Willis for $155.00.  The lowest prices paid for a single lot was  $32.0 and the highest price $400.00.  Thomas N. Hooper purchased lot No. 2 for $400.00.  In 1856 David McKelley and Wm. Demonbreun opened the first Blacksmith Shop in town.  The first merchants were Burke & Yeargin, who opened a general store at the temporary Court House on the corner of Main and Cumberland Street.  W. W. Sanders opened a general store in 1858.  G. W. Hale, J. N. Allen and Arnold Allen were also merchants before the War.

By an Act of the General Assembly, passed December 3, 1859, Ashland City became an incorporated town under the name of Ashland City, the original name having been only Ashland.  The Act provided that a Mayor and six Alderman be elected and at the election held in January, 1861, for that purpose. W. C. Charlton was elected Mayor and John C. Hale, G. W. McQuarry, W. W. Sanders, Jesse
Chadoin and James Gray were elected Aldermen.  By an Act of the General Assembly, passed March 29, 1883, the Act of the Incorporation was repealed and the Charter abolished.

Ashland City Lodge No. 327, F.&A.M., was chartered soon after the close of the Civil War, with A. J. Bright, W. M., Willliam M. Carney, J. W. and J. N. Allen, W. W..  The charter of the Lodge was suspended in 1885; nearly all of the members having either died or moved away.  The first newspaper in the town was "The Cheatham County Plain Dealer", H. B. Stewart Publisher, and Captain S. D. Power as Editor.  It existed for a few months and then suspended.  "The Reporter" was established in September 1883, by W. H. Hooper, who sold it in August, 1884, to S. W. Barbee and edited by the publisher.

Dr. Joseph Hudson was the first Physician in the town.  He located when the town was laid out and remained in the city in the practice of his profession for ten years.  The Post Office was established in 1857, and J. N. Allen was the first Postmaster.  He was followed by A. J. Bright and W. W. Sanders, who was appointed in 1866.  Prior to 1867, there was only one weekly mail.  From that date until 1877 the mail was semi-weekly, and later became daily, except Sunday.  James Smith opened the
first hotel after the town of Ashland City had become a town in name.  This was about the year 1858, in a house on Main Street, and the following year Jesse Chadoin opened a hotel in the "Temporary Court House" known as the Central Hotel.

These remarks are but a small accounting of our heritage and early beginnings - there is much more available - should you become interested in more; check the local Libraries of the County and the Archives - don't forget about the other  Counties that Cheatham sprang from; for prior to 1856 such information about the area is located in their records." - James Allen

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